Is Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Disease the same?
Gluten Intolerance and suffering from Celiac Disease are quite different. This article will explain the difference and help you understand the steps needed to improve your digestive health.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is the name given to the protein found in cereals such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a hybrid of wheat & rye). A person with a gluten intolerance or sensitivity may experience bloating, pain, discomfort or changes to their bowl motions after eating foods that contain gluten.
Gluten acts like a glue to help hold food together and is found in a wide range of foods including:
- Salad Dressings
- Food Colouring
What is Celiac disease?
The most severe form of gluten intolerance is celiac disease. Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune condition that damages the digestive system which left untreated can lead to serious health problems. When celiac disease is ruled out in people experiencing symptoms, they are often diagnosed with either wheat allergy or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS).
Celiac disease is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide. If one of your parents is celiac you should definitely get tested. Although many people live with celiac without even knowing they have it, once diagnosed they often enjoy a better quality of life.
If a Celiac consumes gluten their bodies create an immune response which attacks the villi in the small intestine. These villi look like sea anemonies and increase the surface area of your gut to increase absorption. When the villi are damaged the body cannot properly absorb nutrients which can lead to deficiencies and malnutrition.
- Excess gas
- Iron-deficiency anemia
- Weight loss
Wheat allergy is an immune response to any of the proteins found in wheat which includes gluten:
- glutenin, or gluten
The range of symptoms is incredibly wide from mild to severe discomfort to life threatening, with severe difficulty breathing, known as anaphylaxis. Those with a life-threatening reaction to wheat (known as anaphylactic), will usually carry EpiPen with them at all times.
- Nausea, vomiting & diarrhea
- Nasal congestion or allergic rhinitis
- Watery, itchy or irritated eyes
- Mouth or throat swelling, itching or irritation
- Hives, rash or eczema
- Difficulty breathing, asthma or anaphylaxis
- Bloated stomach
Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS)
Gluten sensitivity is sometimes referred to as gluten intolerance. Individuals with gluten sensitivity cannot tolerate gluten but they do not show the same intestinal damage as people diagnosed with celiac disease. Intolerances are not life threatening and don’t cause anaphylaxis. These individuals share many of the same symptoms, however usually not as severe. People living with NCGS can often have symptoms outside of the intestinal organs.
- Foggy mind
- Joint pain
- Numbness in the arms, legs or fingers
- Other symptoms of non-coeliac gluten intolerance include:
- Excess gas
- Abdominal pain
- Diarrhea or constipation
How We Can Help
While an intolerance or sensitivity to certain foods including proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale may not be life threatening, they can still be quite debilitating and leave you feeling unwell most of the time.
As most of the conditions discussed above have very similar symptoms, it can be challenging to know which foods or food products you are reacting to. That’s where we can help! Tony our Award Winning Naturopath is qualified to carry out food intolerance tests and help you to interpret the results. With over 60% of your immune system in your gut and it being the seat of your health … improving your digestive function can have a dramatic impact on your health and can help correct many health conditions.
Many digestive issues can be resolves by removing the offending food intolerance.
Take the first step toward a healthier you, contact one of our friendly staff today on (07) 3823 3103 to book a consultation with a health professional at Capalaba Natural Health!